Caroline Garcia weathered a mid-match surge from Dominika Cibulkova to make her way into the third round at the Qatar Total Open.
Stephanie Livaudais
February 13, 2018

DOHA, Qatar - Caroline Garcia weathered a mid-match surge from Dominika Cibulkova to make her way into the third round at the Qatar Total Open.

The No.7 seed kept the pressure after dropping the second set to win 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-0 after just over two hours. The win earns her a matchup with either No.11 seed Kristina Mladenovic or Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova.  

“To lose the second set was very tough, so I started the third set a bit down,” Garcia admitted in her post-match interview. “But she gave me free points and I just realized I needed to be more aggressive. I put more pressure on her and so I’m just happy that the third set went this fast!”

The last time Garcia and Cibulkova faced off was in Wuhan last year, where the Frenchwoman emerged victorious in two tight sets en route to lifting the trophy. That result galvanized Garcia’s season, leading her to claim back-to-back titles in China, qualify for the WTA Finals and rise to her career highest ranking of World No.7.

Garcia’s relentless offense was the key to her victory, and it was led by her strong serving. The Frenchwoman struck 12 aces and 45 winners, staying in the positive compared to her 28 winners. As a result, she converted seven of the eleven break chances she created. Meanwhile, Cibulkova struck 17 winners and 25 unforced errors.

Up next, Garcia will play either  No.11 Kristina Mladenovic or Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova in the third round.

The last time Garcia and Cibulkova faced off was in Wuhan last year, where the Frenchwoman emerged victorious in two tight sets en route to lifting the trophy. That result galvanized Garcia’s season, leading her to claim back-to-back titles in China, qualify for the WTA Finals and rise to her career highest ranking of World No.7.

In her Doha opener, Garcia got off to a strong start against the Slovak, earning the first break for a 3-1 lead. Cibulkova did well to keep pace with Garcia and broke straight back to keep them level at 3-3. Switching tactics, Garcia targeted the Cibulkova forehand to earn the decisive break a few games later, winning the last eight points in a row and crushing an unreturnable serve to seal the opening set.

The Frenchwoman kept the momentum going in second, starting with a break and keeping the lead after trading breaks with Cibulkova later on. Cibulkova finally earned the break back right as Garcia was serving for the match, reeling off three games in a row and taking them to a tiebreak.

Cibulkova looked untouchable as she zoomed ahead to a 4-0 lead. Garcia grabbed three points in a row to rally back but couldn’t stem the tide as Cibulkova edged through to take the second set. But despite Cibulkova’s mammoth effort in the second set, it was one-way traffic for Garcia in the third. Cibulkova just couldn’t keep up her level against Garcia’s renewed aggression, and her unforced error count grew. Garcia allowed her opponent just four points in the final set - which she sealed with an ace to finish the match in exactly two hours.

Garcia’s relentless offense was the key to her victory, and it was led by her strong serve. The Frenchwoman struck 12 aces and 45 winners, staying in the positive compared to her 28 winners. As a result, she converted seven of the eleven break chances she created. Meanwhile, Cibulkova struck 17 winners and 25 unforced errors.